• Meet Nassia: Children’s Rights Advocate

    ​As told to Adriana Ermter


    Nassia, a Right To Play Junior Leader sits outside the Gender Equality and Child Protection club at the Kanembwe School in Rubavu, Rwanda​

    I love school. Maybe it's because I like to read. I'm ​​pretty good at figuring out math problems too, you know, the ones where you have to draw a graph so that you can explain the pattern between the numbers. 

    My parents haven't pulled me out of school, yet. I​'m 13 now and I know a lot of girls who had to drop out this year because their parents made them. Some of them were my friends. But their moms need help with the housework and taking care of the little kids. I understand, but I'm glad it's not me.

    No boys ever have to stay home. They always get to go to school.

    It's not fair. It's my right to have an education. I know because I joined the Gender Equality and Children Protection club at my school. Lots of kids are in it. The Right To Play Coaches taught us that we have the right to learn; to say no to fighting, abuse and sexual advances; that girls and boys should be treated equally; and that whatever a boy can do a girl can, too.

    I can run just as hard as the boys when I'm playing football.


    Nassia and her friends play a game of soccer. 

    Before I joined the club, I never played with the boys. I was scared of them and they wouldn't let me play football, anyways. They weren't my friends. I was very lonely. It's frightening when you're a girl and you feel like this. If you can't go to school these feelings are even worse and you have no one to talk to about them. It can lead to prostitution and drugs. I've seen it happen.

    The club taught me that I have the right to do anything I want. So I play football with the boys and it has eliminated all of my fears. Now, I see boys as my teammates. They're the same as me. Every girl needs to go to school; it creates a path for her future. For me, it led me to join the club. I'm also going to be a teacher when I grow up so I can teach children's rights to other kids. Before, I didn't know my rights, but now I do and so should everyone else.

    All photography by Terence Babb​

    In 2015, Right To Play launched the Play for the Advancement of Quality Education (PAQE) program with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada. Active in eight countries, PAQE uses Right To Play's experiential learning methodology to build teacher capacity and remove barriers to education to improve learning outcomes. ​